student leaders back at varsity

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The nine suspended members of the Students Representative Council (SRC) at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi, south of Durban, have been reinstated.

The students, who believe they were victimised because they support the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), will immediately resume their duties in the SRC office.

One of the students, Brian Masondo, who is SRC president and chairman of the provincial South African Democratic Students Movement, said the letter they wrote to the university council two weeks ago had led to their victory.

The students received letters of reinstatement last week, two months after they launched an appeal with the university.

They were suspended for a year in July after an internal disciplinary hearing found them guilty of perpetrating a month- long unlawful strike in February over the shortage of lecturers at the university.

"The reinstatement does not mean that we are going to quit pursuing other ways to prove that we were accused of a crime we did not commit," Masondo said.

He said the SRC members were determined to prove that their suspension was politically motivated and that it had nothing to do with the strike.

"We are going to consult our lawyers about ways of getting the university to compensate us for the time we have lost," Masondo said.

The students launched their appeal in July against the one-year suspension from the university.

Their reinstatement comes after the university's vice-chancellor, Aaron 'Mseshi' Ndlovu, was ordered to take compulsory leave while an investigation into the university's financial status is under way.

The students had consistently accused the university management of using the strike to get rid of them because their student organisation is aligned to the IFP.

Masondo said: "I have been deprived of my rights for a crime that I did not commit."

Masondo, a third year student, would have graduated next year if he had not been suspended.

He said it had not been decided whether the university would assist the students with a catch-up programme.

"The grounds of your appeal were valid,'' read the letter lifting the suspension and signed by acting vice-chancellor EC Zingu.

About 1000 students took part in the month-long strike but only a handful of them were suspended.